COVID-19 in Maharashtra: MSRTC to run 1,000 more intra-state buses for Diwali

Updated: 31 October, 2020 07:01 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

The state transport provider says it won't hike the fares this year, keeping in mind the financial problems that the public is facing due to the pandemic

MSRTC buses lined up at Wadala BEST depot on Tuesday. 
Pic/ Ashish Raje
MSRTC buses lined up at Wadala BEST depot on Tuesday. Pic/ Ashish Raje

The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) on Friday said they will add 1,000 more buses daily for 10 days, from November 10 to 22, to cater to the festive and Diwali crowds within the state.

The special buses will be sourced from the major depots across the state, and the timetable and bookings will be available on the MSRTC website.

No fare hikes this year

The state transport body also announced that bus fares won't be increased this year. “Usually, MSRTC increases the fares by around 30 per cent during Diwali. But it won't happen this time because many people are facing financial problems due to job loss or salary cuts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” another MSRTC official said.

Loan for salary

The MSRTC on Friday said they had sought Rs 3,600 crore from the Maharashtra government for the disbursal of the employees' salaries, as the transport provider has not been able to pay them for the past three months, and other essential expenses.

But, as even the state government is currently not in the position to help out due to massive losses, the MSRTC is planning to raise money through external sources, said Transport Minister and MSRTC Chairman Anil Parab. The MSRTC is contemplating taking out loans against its bus depots.

The MSRTC needs Rs 292 crore per month for salaries. In the pre-COVID-19 era, the MSRTC earned Ra 22 crore a day, which has drastically fallen to merely Rs 5-6 crore, Parab added.

100 MSRTC staffers test +ve

Nearly 100 employees of the MSRTC from Sangli division, who were helping out the BEST public transport during the COVID-19 lockdown, have tested positive for novel Coronavirus on returning home.

Around 400 MSRTC employees recently returned home after completing their work and were tested, and reports of about 100 came back positive. They are all in quarantine. Confirming the development, an MSRTC spokesperson said most of them are asymptomatic and no one is critical. Most are in home quarantine, the spokesperson added.

MSRTC buses were inducted in the BEST fleet on rent in September, and over the next one year, more than MSRTC 1,000 buses are expected to be used on BEST bus routes.

The state transport employees would run the trips under the guidance of BEST staff.

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First Published: 31 October, 2020 07:01 IST

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